From one of the best bands to emerge during the grunge years and release three truly great albums that every true rocker should own, love and cherish, D Generation frontman Jesse Malin decided to call a halt to the creeper-wearing, spikey topped legends and persue a solo career as a singer songwriter with a less punk sound. Embracing a wider set of influences yet retaining his 'street' attitude with some soft songs for tough guys, he broadens his pallet by working with some massive names along the way like Ryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen. Releasing a string of superb solo albums and an album of covers of some of his favorite artists, with such über giants as Lords Of The New Church, Ramones and The Clash being given the Jesse Malin treatment, and a new album in the bag set for a 2010 release, Über Röck decided to find out what Mr Malin was up to and sling a few questions at him about his past, present and future.
Going back to your former day job in the massively underrated and massively influential D Generation, do you even think there will be a time when you might consider reforming for some shows or anniversary releases of the albums?
You never know. I love all those guys. If it was fun, bring it on.... Danny just sang on my new record. I talk to Howie, Rick and Michael all the time. Just might need some hot mops.
Staying on D Generation for a moment; I appreciate you've moved on but are you tempted to put more of the songs into your solo set and maybe the newer fans who wouldn't be aware of D Gen could get the chance to check out some superb songs? I'm not sure you realize how much your music, and that band in particular, was so influential at a time in the music scene in the UK that seemed so bereft of genuine contenders, which you were definitely a part of.
I didn't know we influenced that many people, but I like to occasionally play a D Gen song during a set. Maybe someday someone will put out a retrospective compilation or we'll make a new record. It's been ten years since we broke up.
Über Röck svengali Gaz E. had some dealings with Richard Kern, who took the photos for D Generation's 'Through The Darkness' album, many moons ago when he worked on a cult movie fanzine and was wondering how the underground filmmaker, writer and photographer got involved with the band.
I've always been a fan of Richard's work. I knew him from the neighborhood down here, Lower East. The girl (on the cover) had a pretty/scary thing about her and Richard's good with that kind of stuff. Über Röck has taste.
Do you have a particular outstanding memory of your time fronting D Generation?
Opening for Kiss at Madison Square Garden in New York; working with Ric Ocasek at Electric Lady Studios on 'No Lunch'; playing Continental in the early days, twice a month; touring with the Ramones; getting our first tour bus; opening for Green Day in Europe, and lots of great jokes and fruity bits driving around in a van with four of the funniest people in the world.
When you toured with Green Day did you ever think they'd go on to be such a world wide phenomenon? Do you still keep in touch with Billy Joe?
I always believed that they were a very powerful band and Billie is a real and talented writer. Who knew a punk rock opera would connect so well. I remember when Mike Dirnt told me about it one night while I was DJing at Niagara and I thought he was out of his mind. Now they're gonna be on Broadway. I talk to Billie Joe regularly. He's a good friend. I recently recorded a song with the three Green Day guys called 'Depression Times'. Maybe it'll come out some time soon. We might name the band Drunk In New York.
When was the last time you spoke with Ryan Adams and will he return to music in your opinion?
I talked to him two days ago. He is music. He doesn't have to return. It will return to him.
You've made some pretty hard to find records like the '169' EP, Bellvue album and some other post D Gen projects. Have you considered maybe putting them together as part of a bigger set or maybe some sort of download for fans who might have missed out on some superb work?
Maybe I'll do a box set some day. Or if not, just a box lunch.
Looking back, with the power of hindsight being such a wonderful thing, what would you change that might have made a difference to the success you had with D Gen and as a solo artist?
I'd try to live in the moment. I wish D Generation had toured more and I'd kept my ego more in check back then. I'm looking forward to many more tours, gigs, records, and drinks to come.
Having worked with some huge stars in music have you been given any advice that has had a big effect on you?
Be real. Be true. Have fun. Shoot from the heart. Stay hungry. Rehearse. Eat lots of greens.
When will you have a new album out in the UK? In what direction is your new material heading?
Coming out end of April, new Jesse Malin rock record on Side One Dummy Records, produced by Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Lucero, Flogging Molly). It might be my favorite record yet. There's somewhat of a D Gen feel to some of the songs. Howie and Danny from D Gen participated, as well as Ryan Adams and the wonderful Mandy Moore.
The covers album you released - 2008's 'On Your Sleeve' - had some great tracks on it and a particular favorite was the Lords Of The New Church cover. How did you decide on what tracks went on the album and were there more you recorded? Did you have a go at any other Lords songs?
Always loved 'Russian Roulette'. I thought the lyrics to that song were phenomenal. I think Tony James from Generation X wrote them. I don't think I'll cover any more Lords, but I do like Stiv Bators' 'Million Miles Away' a lot and any Dead Boys songs.
Any curious studio experiences that would raise an eyebrow or a titter amongst our readers?
When we first got to Electric Lady studios with D Generation, we were so impressed with the history of the studio - Hendrix, Kiss, Zeppelin, The Clash, etc - we didn't want to leave after the sessions were over. We would take turns sleeping there. The mixing console was twenty feet long and looked like the Star Trek Enterprise. I had sex on the board one night after the studio was closed down.
Your influences cover a few genres and, obviously being of a similar age, if you could put together a fantasy band to back you who would be in it, and what would you do for an encore?
I really don't know. I'll have to keep thinking about that one. Maybe next time I'll have a line up too many.
Finally, if you could recommend a couple of bands you think our readers should check out, who are they?
Dead Weather, Wilco, Marah, Holly Ramos, Gaslight Anthem, Hold Steady, Pawn Shop Roses, Nicole Atkins and the Sea, The Kills, Elvis Presley, Spoon, The Viletones, The Undertones, The Dickies, The Detroit Cobras, The Senders, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Suicide, Doppleganger....
Über-thanks to Jesse for agreeing to talk to us and saying that we have taste! Jesse also gave us a cool 'Gig From Hell' tale that you can find here!!!!